This is one super sick track that defined the true meaning of techno-electro hiphop. Drum machine tight beats, rolling mechanical techno bassline, synth zip-zaps, reverse-then-slap-forward claps, synth pads, vocal erotic samples, synthetic scratching samples, really sweet processed orchestra stabs/hits, and serious rhymes. 808 Beats stands on its own plateau. Although The Unknown DJ raps about his 808 drum machine, but the drum machine sounds in this track aren’t from a Roland TR-808 at all …. not even close; but my best guess would be that they come from Oberheim DX or DMX.

The Unknown DJ – “808 Beats”…

Artist: The Unkown DJ
Title: 808 Beats
Year: 1984
Label: Techno Hop
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

The Unknown DJ – “808 Beats” (mp3)

 

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The original version of this track was released in 1986, which sounded musically OK, even though its production quality was lo-fi, but overall it lacked oomph and excitement. When 1987 came around, MARRS released it’s internationally mega smash-hit Pump Up The Volume which used the vocal sample/snippet “Pump up the volume” from Eric B. & Rakim‘s original version of I Know You Got Soul. Millions of people wondered who and from where did that sample come from, and, thus giving unprecedented exposure, attention and credit to Eric B. & Rakim. Because of MARRS, a new remix of I Know You Got Soul was just around the corner …. and here it is! This remix was in the top-10 British and European music charts and in the top-70 North American charts.

It should also be noted that it was ColdCut‘s smash-hit remix of Paid In Full (in late 1987) which brought really catapulted Eric B. & Rakim‘s to the top of the mainstream British and North American music charts. Read full article here.

Eric B & Rakim – “I Know You Got Soul” (The Double Trouble Remix)…

Artist: Eric B & Rakim
Title: I Know You Got Soul (The Double Trouble Remix)
Year: 1987
Label: 4th & Broadway
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

Eric B & Rakim – I Know You Got Soul (The Double Trouble Remix) (mp3)

 

DJ Eric Barrier (left) and MC Rakim Allah (Right).

Captain Rock - Cosmic Blast 01

I’m a very huge fan of Captain Rock’s preschool hiphop. I have all of the very few 12-inch records he’d released between early and mid 80′s. What I love about this track is the hard-hitting, reverb-gated kick and snare from a drum-machine.  The synth bassline is very thick and stabby, punching it’s low-frequency melody on top of the kick/snare, thus  adding extra beef in-between and around the beats. There is also a cosmic and high-pitched syncopated synth element which serves as the main upper-layered second melody – super nice icing on the cake, driving the track along with the bassline underneath. The human-beatboxing is incredibly breathy, groovy and not over the top; there are no Fat-Boy-esquehee-haw, haw-hah” beatbox vocals.  It’s somewhat a futuristic-sounding hiphop. Really good production. No messing around, no bullshit.

I’ve managed to gather little information about him from another site:

His real name is Ronnie Green. Captain Rock was an underground fixture in the early 80′s. Captain Rock was produced by Aleem (Taharqa & Tunde-ra Aleem) on NIA. He appeared at the [Street Sounds] UK Fresh Fest 86 where he allegedly striped down to his thong on stage. Several of his tracks include “Captain Rock to the Future Shock”, “House of Rock”, and “Cosmic Glide”. Before being Captian Rock he was Dr Jecyll and Mr Hyde’s live dj from their period in the Harlem World Crew.  He was known as DJ Ronnie Green. The only record he wrote the lyrics for was “Cosmic Blast.” The Cosmic Crew didn’t exist longer than the time it took to make the record “Cosmic Blast”. They were The Aleems, Dr Jeckyll + Mr Hyde, Scratch Al-D and Marley Marl. He was a referee for NCAA Division 3 basketball in the late 80′s and early 90′s. He’s also run a youth program in New York City, for underprivileged kids. He still keeps in touch with several artists including Mr Hyde, Aleem Brothers and Marley Marl.

Captain Rock - Cosmic Blast 02 Captain Rock - Cosmic Blast 03

Captain Rock – “Cosmic Blast”…

Artist: Captain Rock
Title: Cosmic Blast
Year: 1984
Label: NIA Records
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

Captain Rock – “Cosmic Crew” (mp3)

 

Captain Rock – “Cosmic Blast” (Dub)…

Artist: Captain Rock
Title: Cosmic Blast (Dub)
Year: 1984
Label: NIA Records
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

Captain Rock – “Cosmic Crew” (Dub) (mp3)

 

Fat Boys

Beatbox Is Rockin is an amazing fast-paced oldschool electro dance hiphop track on the cutting-edge back in 1986 — A MASTERPIECE. It has all the elements to be electronic and rap: Pounding, dance break-beats from a drum machine; vocoder (either Roland or Sennheiser, pictures below); multi-layered one-shot synth stabs; sampled human beatbox snippets triggered from a sampler; and multi-tracks of real human beatbox. The Fat Boys are fondly regarded as a seminal part of early rap music recording history (click here read Fat Boys wikipedia).

Fat Boys – “Beatbox Is Rockin”…

Artist: Fat Boys
Title: Beatbox Is Rockin
Year: 1986
Label: Sutra Records
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

Fat Boys – “Beatbox Is Rockin” (mp3)

 

Roland vocoder

Roland SVC-350 vocoder

Sennheiser vocoder

Sennheisser vocoder -- one of the best ever made!

Shango - Shango Message

I must be one of the very few bloggers who’s done a good-quality recording of this track and made available on the net. Shango is member of Afrika Bambaataa and the Soulsonic Force and ZuluNation. In 1984 he released a killer solo album. The front-cover alone convinced me to buy it.  Once I got home and played the record, I was floored to how original all the tracks were. I’m talking about five long tracks with electric beats, cosmo funk, rap & singing vocals, synthesizers, drum machines, vocoders, deep basslines, laser beams and soul mania. You’re gonna love the synth hooks in Shango Message. Play this track nice and loud on beefy speakers.  Stand back, close your eyes and groove deep with it.

Shango – “Shango Message”…

Artist: Shango
Title: Shango Message
Year: 1984
Label: CellulOID
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

Shango – “Shango Message” (mp3)

 

Roxanne Shante - Bite This 01

The first time I’ve ever heard of Roxanne Shante was in 1985 in 8th-grade at my boarding-school Pickering College in Newmarket, Ontario, Canada. At that time, I was listening to very few rap artists (such as Grandmaster Flash, Melle Mel & The Furious Five; Sugar Hill Gang, to name a few) and had only limited rap records/tapes in my personal music collection, considering that the Rap genre was practically unheard of in Canada where it also was very difficult to find any rap music at any Canadian record shop. Then one day, in early 1985, there was this Bahamian kid (who lived in the dorm-room next to mine) who played me his NYC underground rap mix-tape which he’d brought over from his trip to NYC …… and ….. OH MY GOD ….. the first track ….. blew my mind …..Roxanne Shante’s “Queen Of Rox”  ….. harder-edge ….. drum machine beat/groove, scratches, one-shot stab hits and edgy rap vocals ….. slightly more hardcorish than any other rap I’ve ever heard before. When school was over for the Summer, I went back to England and ordered all of Shante’s 12-inch records from local record shop. Less two weeks later ….. I went to pick up my imported Shante records …..  the guy handed me the stuff with a nice surprise on top: Shante’s spanking-new latest release (UK release, mind you!) Bite This. The single so new …… that even Streetsounds (Electro-7 mix compilation) haven’t picked it up yet!

Here’s what I need you to do:

  1. First, play this youtube video of Roxanne Shante’s “Queen Of Rox
  2. And then play Bite This tracks (Flash player below) and at the same time read her wiki and the next article The Story Behind The Story Behind The Roxanne Shante Story.
  • Roxanne Shante is known for improvising her rap lyrics on the spot …. recorded in one-takes.

Roxanne Shante – “Bite This” (Extended)…

Artist: Roxanne Shante
Title: Bite This (Extended)
Year: 1985
Label: 10 Records
Beat Producer & Shante’s close friend: Marley Marl
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

Roxanne Shante – “Bite This” (mp3)

 

Roxanne Shante – “Dub This”…

Artist: Roxanne Shante
Title: Dub This
Year: 1985
Label: 10 Records
Beat Producer & Shante’s close friend: Marley Marl
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

Roxanne Shante – “Dub This” (mp3)

 

Roxanne Shante - Bite This 02

Links…

YouTube Video: Roxanne Shante – “Queen Of Rox”…

Roxanne Shante 01

Roxanne Shante

Marley Marl 01

Marley Marll -- Shante's beat producer and personal friend.

Davy DMX - The DMX Will Rock 01

I am so glad that I bought this 12-inch record back in 1985. It was purely accidental. I had no idea that I was buying a gem, but the cover, colors and the names of the label and artist were enough to convince me to make the purchase. Such a killer track. Both versions of this track are completely different and distinct from each other, as if not remixes at all. At that time, I was really into electro hiphop and finding a lot of 12-inch singles of that genre (in England of all places) was really hard, whereas most tracks were easy enough to find on compilation albums & cassettes like the Electro series released through UK’s renowned Streetsounds label. For the record, Davy’s “DMX” last name is derived from a very popular drum machine at that time — the Oberheim DMX (see picture caption somewhere below).

Davy DMX – “The DMX Will Rock” (Rap Mix)…

Artist: Davy DMX
Title: The DMX Will Rock (Rap Mix)
Year: 1985
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

Davy DMX – “The DMX Will Rock” (Rap Mix) (mp3)

 

Davy DMX – “The DMX Will Rock” (Scratch Mix)…

Artist: Davy DMX
Title: The DMX Will Rock (Scratch Mix)
Year: 1985
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

Davy DMX – “The DMX Will Rock” (Scratch Mix) (mp3)

 

Davy DMX - The DMX Will Rock 02

Davy DMX himself

Davy DMX, circa 1984/85

Oberheim DMX drum machine.

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